McGinley confirmed Ryder Cup captain
Golf:Paul McGinley is the first ever Irish captain of a Ryder Cup team after the European Tournament Committee chose the Dubliner ahead of Colin Montgomerie this evening. A lengthy meeting in Abu Dhabi concluded with the news many expected, and others then feared we might not get, after Montgomerie’s late entrance to the race.
For months it had appeared a straight choice between McGinley and fellow Irishman Darren Clarke, but the Ulsterman muddied the waters when he decided to step aside and leave former skipper Montgomerie as the Dubliner's main rival to lead Europe at Glenaeagles, after his success of 2010 at Celtic Manor. Two other Scots - Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie - were also considered for the role, as was Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Reports over the weekend suggested the wind might have been blowing in Monty's favour, with ’sources’ close to the 49-year-old expressing confidence he would be selected. But McGinley, who has maintained a dignified silence throughout the process, enjoyed the support of the players likely to be playing next year, with Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter all rowing in behind his candidacy.
Just nine members of the 15-strong selection committee were actually involved in the vote and after nearly three hours word filtered through that McGinley was their man.
“Obviously, I’m delighted to have this honour to lead the European team,” said McGinley after being introduced by Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn. “It's a very humbling experience to be sitting in this seat and it's a week that I'm really looking forward to.”
American team captain Tom Watson, who McGinley described as one of his "great heroes", welcomed the Irishman's appointment almost immediately.
"Congrats to Paul McGinley on your R/C Captaincy," he said on Twitter. "Looking forward to our future competition. You're a class act."
On his American rival, McGinley added: “He’s not only a wonderful person abut a great ambassador for the game of golf. I’ve never had an opportunity to go up against him in a playing sense. To go up against him in a captaincy sense will be a real thrill for me.”
Bjorn said all five candidates were considered but "it was very obvious, very early in the meeting, that this was the route that the committee wanted to go". He added: "I think we made the right decision. Our players on Tour wanted this decision and we listen to our players, that's who we represent. So, I think we made the right decision."
McGinley, a match-winning hero of Europe's 2002 win and an assistant in the last two victories, thanked Rory McIlroy for his very public support in recent days, joking: “If Rory does not make the team I think he has got a good chance of a pick now."
The support of the world number one, who played under McGinley in the Seve Trophy, certainly helped the cause. Even after Watson was put in charge by the Americans for next year’s match at Gleneagles, McIlroy saw no need to deviate from his view that 46-year-old McGinley was the right man for the job.
“I have a very strong opinion about this,” he said. “I really think Paul deserves it. From all the captains I’ve played under, I think he was the best.”
Pádraig Harrington was also on hand to offer his congratulations.
While many were vocal in support of him, McGinley maintained his silence, but admitted today he was eager to have his say.
“I watched with interest,” he added. “Like a yo-yo my chances seemed to go up and down. I felt the more I said the more my chances would lessen. I was very tempted to speak up, but my wife and friends told me to stay with dignity, don’t get involved and it will work in the long term. I believed it too.”
Additional reporting from PA